The father of an American journalist beheaded by a member of the ISIS ‘Beatles’ has said there is now ‘a little bit of justice’ after he watched one of the terrorists plead guilty on what marked the seventh anniversary of his son’s death.
Art Sotloff, father of slain 31-year-old Steven Joel Sotloff, said he felt his son’s presence in the federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, Thursday as he came face-to-face with the jihadi Alexanda Amon Kotey.
‘I felt [Steven] there in the courtroom with me and I could see him smiling because finally there was a little bit of justice,’ said Sotloff.
Kotey, 37, known as ‘Jihadi Ringo’ of the terror cell dubbed the ISIS ‘Beatles’ because of their British accents, pleaded guilty to all eight counts of terrorism charges Thursday.
Art Sotloff, the father of an American journalist beheaded by a member of the ISIS ‘Beatles’ has said there is now ‘a little bit of justice’ after he watched one of the terrorists plead guilty
Alexanda Amon Kotey (on left with El Shafee Elsheikh right) pleaded guilty to all eight counts of terrorism charges Thursday
Steven was one of multiple victims including four Americans taken captive by the group, before being tortured and executed in Syria.
Horrific footage of the American-Israeli journalist being beheaded on September 2 2014 by Mohammed Emwazi – known as ‘Jihadi John’ – was shared online by the terrorists.
Sotloff told Local10 he was sat just 10 feet from Kotey in the courtroom as the jihadi calmly recalled how he subjected Steven and his other hostages to torture.
Sotloff, from South Florida, said Kotey showed no emotion and was ‘cool calm and collected like he was talking about baseball’ as he described punching, waterboarding and administering electric shocks to his victims.
Though it was ‘devastating’ to hear how his son had suffered, he said he tried to ‘contain myself’ because he was with the other victims’ families.
Family members of the other three American victims – fellow US journalist James Foley and US aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller – were also in court Thursday.
Steven Joel Sotloff, 31, (pictured) was one of multiple victims including four Americans taken captive by the group, before being tortured and executed in Syria
Sotloff said he was able to take some ‘pleasure’ in the knowledge that there is now some ‘justice’ for his son’s death.
Kotey made ‘very little’ eye contact with the families, said Sotloff, adding that he ‘wanted’ to look the terrorist in the eye but ‘didn’t have the opportunity.’
The grieving dad said he believes the timing of Kotey’s guilty plea – seven years on from Steven’s death – was pertinent.
‘Seven years to the day. What are the odds of that? I think God had something to do with it. I don’t know what to say,’ he said.
Steven, a grandson of Holocaust survivors who grew up in Miami, was working as a freelance journalist in Syria when he was taken hostage from a fake government checkpoint near Aleppo in 2013.
Horrific footage of the American-Israeli journalist being beheaded on September 2 2014 by Mohammed Emwazi – known as ‘Jihadi John’ – was shared online by the terrorists (above)
Kotey (in blue top) and Elsheikh (behind) are escorted by Kurdish security in Kobani, Syria, in 2018
He was held by the terror cell for 13 months before ISIS posted a video of his execution online.
ISIS had demanded a ransom of $140million which the US government refused to pay.
The Obama administration came under fire following Steven’s death after the US military failed in its attempt to rescue him and the three other American hostages.
Kotey now faces life without parole for his part in the murders of Steven and the other hostages when he is sentenced on March 22.
He pleaded guilty Thursday to charges including hostage-taking resulting in death, conspiracy to commit murder against US citizens abroad, and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
This came almost one year after he originally plead non-guilty last October, suggesting he may now be cooperating with authorities.
During his plea hearing, Kotey confessed to his role in the deaths of the four Americans as well as British and Japanese nationals.
Foley was executed on video in August 2014 after being held by ISIS for two years since his capture while working as a freelance war correspondent during the Syria Civil War.
Kotey was also charged in connection with the deaths of journalist James Foley (left) and aid worker Peter Kassig (right)
He was also charged over the death of US humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller (pictured)
Aid worker Mueller was abducted in 2013 and held for two years, during which she was raped by former ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
She was beheaded in 2015 and photos of her body sent by email to her family.
Former US Army Ranger Kassig was killed in 2014 after being captured in October 2013 while working to provide aid to Syrians fleeing the war-torn country.
Kotey was part of a terrorist group of four men from west London nicknamed the ‘Beatles’ and led by Emwazi.
As well as the four Americans, the group was involved in the deaths of other hostages including Alan Henning, a British taxi driver who was delivering aid, David Haines, a Scottish aid worker, and two Japanese nationals.
Emwazi who was killed in a targeted CIA air-strike in 2015.
Aine Lesley Davis, known as ‘Jihadi Paul’, was sentenced to serve seven and a half years in a Turkish prison in 2017.
The fourth member of the ISIS ‘Beatles’, El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, known as ‘Jihadi George’, is scheduled to go on trial January.
Kotey and Elsheikh were finally transferred to US custody last October to face trial after being held in Iraq by the US military.
Who are the ISIS Beatles?
Mohammed Emwazi – Jihadi John
Emwazi was one of the most prominent members of the so-called ISIS Beatles and was regularly seen carrying out executions in their horrific beheading videos.
He took part in the barbaric beheadings of British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and US humanitarian worker Peter Kassig.
The terrorist, who was born in Kuwait and grew up in Queen’s Park, West London, was charged with 27 counts of murder and five counts of hostage taking in November 2014.
He was killed in a Hellfire missile drone strike in Syria in 2015.
Aine Lesley Davis – Paul
Davis was born Aine Leslie Junior Davis in 1984 to Fay Rodriquez, and is believed to have spent the early years of his childhood in Hammersmith where his mother lived.
He was one of 13 children his father had by four different women.
The former tube driver, who has drug-dealing and firearms convictions to his name, converted to Islam while in prison.
In 2014 his wife, Amal el-Wahabi, was convicted of funding terrorism after she persuaded a friend to try and smuggle £16,000 in cash in her underwear to him.
Davis was captured by Turkish security officials in 2015 and was later found guilty of being a senior member of a terrorist organization and was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.
Alexanda Kotey – Ringo
Kotey, 36, was born to a Ghanaian father and a Greek Cypriot mother and grew up in Shepherd’s Bush, London.
Before his radicalization, he is thought to have worked as a drug dealer before converting to Islam in his early 20s.
In 2012, he left for Syria where the US claims he was involved in beheadings and known for administering ‘exceptionally cruel torture methods’, including electronic shocks.
He is also accused of acting as an ISIS recruiter who convinced a number of other British extremists to join the terror group.
Kotey was captured in Syria while trying to escape to Turkey in 2018 and was held in a US military center in Iraq.
The British Government wanted him tried in the US, where officials believe there is a more realistic chance of prosecution than in the UK.
He was extradited last year and was charged with a number of terror offences.
El Shafee Elsheikh
El Shafee Elsheikh – George
Born in Sudan, Elsheikh, 32, grew up in West London and is the final member of the four British terrorists who fled to join ISIS.
He has been linked to the killings of a number of hostages after heading to Syria to join the extremist group.
He was captured along with Kotey when they tried to flee to Turkey in 2018 and has since been transported to the US where he now faces charges relating to terrorism and beheading Western hostages.